Pavarotti's Pasta con pesto
By popular demand, here's the superstar tenor's recipe, as told to me by phone in 1994:
"If you have a blender, you put in good Italian olive oil, normal, not virgin.
"Add garlic; lots of basil; a little crushed, dry red pepper; some pignoli (pine nuts) and walnuts in the same proportion."
The amounts, says Pavarotti, are determined by how much you are making.
"Then you put in grated Parmesan cheese, and then blend a minute in the blender."
Salt to taste, he adds, and be sure the consistency is liquid. If is is too thick, add a little more oil or water, and blend again.
"You boil and drain the pasta, and then you put this mixture on the top, and you mix it very well. That is all."
Here are some suggested amounts from Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cookbook" (Knopf; 1990)
If you begin with 1/2 cup olive oil, use 2 cups fresh basil leaves (try to buy Italian basil); 2 cloves garlic; 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; 2 tablespoons pine nuts and 2 tablespoons walnuts, 1 teaspoon salt.